Ice Water and Shrunken Heads

These two entries have nothing in common; I just wanted to write about them both, and I didn’t want to wait for two different days to post them.

1. The other day I was in the Water Park. I’ll stop here to clarify something that has caused every westerner a great deal of confusion upon first arriving in this fair city. “Water park” here doesn’t mean an amusement park with water-slides and man-made rivers. It’s far more literal than that. It’s just a park. . .with water. Once you get past your initial confusion, it’s actually a very nice park, one of the best I’ve seen in China. They’ve put a great deal of work into it over the years and it shows. Anyway, the other day I was hanging out there and went to the public restroom. Every public restroom in China has an attendant sitting outside whose job it is to, well, attend. I can’t imagine there would be much else to do. It’s not a lifeguard position, after all. I suppose the job could include the type of duty left to St. Bernards in alpine areas, namely the delivery of emergency supplies to stranded people. Here, of course, in place of the little barrel full of Scotch, or whatever the cartoons affix to the neck of said dogs, the attendant would have, say, toilet paper or hand-soap. But I digress.
As I said, there was an attendant sitting outside the restroom. I went on into the restroom proper, and looked over at the sinks, which were still wet from whoever had most recently washed their hands. And there in the wet was a microwave, plugged in and microwaving. I can only imagine the attendant outside had gotten tired of cold snacks for dinner and had decided to bring along a microwave to work. And apparently he wanted a warm dinner so much that he was willing to set a powerful electronic device in a pool of water. I love it. I really do. Do you know what I love even more? Thinking about what he was microwaving. There’s something wonderful about stumbling onto a functioning microwave whose door panel is opaque. You can spend a long time just imagining what might be inside. It’s a little like shaking a Christmas present, only in this case with the added thrill of possible fiery death by electrocution. So what was he nuking? Leftover dumplings? French fries? A Little Juan frozen burrito? A shrunken head? Personally, I love the shrunken head option. I would consider myself fortunate to live in a world where Chinese restroom attendants nuke shrunken heads in their off hours. Who wouldn’t?

2. The Nankai pool authorities (gods, mythical overseers, etc.) have ordained that the pool water no longer be heated. Those of you who read this blog more than once every few months will remember that I complained about the temperature of the water once before, saying it felt like I was swimming laps in McMurdo Sound. Well yesterday I jumped in and the water made McMurdo Sound feel like the shallow end of a public pool. (“Wait. . .did he just make a pee joke and contrasting temperatures joke at the same time?” Yes, yes he did.) I have no real way to describe how cold it was. I hit the water and said, “Motherf. . .” but couldn’t even complete the profanity because all the air had been sucked out of my lungs. The word just tapered off into a desperate “huh!” and I threw myself into the swim. My first fifty meters were completed at a pace I’m willing to bet no human being has ever touched. It’s possible a porpoise could have outpaced me, but even then it would have to have brought its A-game.
Please turn the heat back on for a while, Nankai pool gods. Or centaurs. Or whatever.

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2 Responses to Ice Water and Shrunken Heads

  1. Taylor says:

    I just want to reiterate that I love reading your writings.

  2. Jessica says:

    Regarding electric devices in large pools of water, I’ve always felt a little leery of the bathroom arrangement here in which the washing machine is in a corner of the bathroom. I mean…it’s plugged in, right? And water in most of these bathrooms goes EVERYWHERE…so it sits in a giant pool of water, which one also stands in while showering.

    Nobody else seems worried though, so for now I’ll just be thankful that our bathroom is too small to stuff our washing machine in it.

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